Tuesday, June 24, 2014

City Attorney Teresa "Terri" Highsmith's Wacky Alameda Misadventures Are Available All Over The Internet

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Mod: Since the staff report on a possible building (or is that water) moratorium here in Sierra Madre reads more like a sales pitch for City Council "no" votes than the balanced and unbiased document you'd expect from our quite highly compensated City Attorney, I got pretty annoyed. Not an unusual a state for me, I guess.

As you are probably aware, we pay a ton of dough to the law firm that Teresa Highsmith is currently associated with. How much of a ton of dough you should ask? A real lot of dough. This screen shot from the City of Sierra Madre "Consent Calendar" is just for the last few weeks alone. It is a whole lot of taxpayer generated wealth for a comparatively compact stretch of work. Check it out if that is what you would like to do.


$27,657.40 for a relatively short period of work is damn good money where I come from. Rest assured dear reader, similarly robust financial statements for legal product (as they say) hit the city's virtual cash register all year long. As is fitting for any law firm that specializes in keeping the townies from ever getting what it is they want.

You know, like a community safe from the predatory megabucks development firms that seem to have carte blanche at City Hall? I mean, when was the last time you were invited to break Twinkies in private with the City Manager?

Not that long ago the City Council conducted a talent search to see if we could get a better City Attorney. One that would take a more egalitarian approach to this city's pressing legal needs while perhaps not costing quite so much.

And you'd think that during this so-called process City Staff might have done a bit of due diligence and looked into these potential City Attorney candidates a little bit more. You know, checked out the names on Google first. Including that of our current City Attorney, Teresa Highsmith. Because if that finger had been lifted they would have found things like the following (link):


A former City Attorney suing the city she used to work for (or, in this case, threatening to sue the city she used to work for) is not usually what people are hoping to see hanging around their downtown. I mean, what would a city have to do, hire a new City Attorney with special legal expertise in protecting them from former City Attorneys? That could become complicated.

And that little bit about Highsmith's current partner, Michael Colantuono, who she hired back then when apparently working for both him and Alameda (and at the same time?), having a screaming fit in public sure made me want to dig deeper into my pockets and pay even more for these kinds of idiosyncratic legal representation.

You can check out the erstwhile lawsuit Teresa Highsmith laid on her ex-employers at the City of Alameda by clicking here. For the record, she eventually dropped this mess. Probably because it stank on ice.

You can also read another SFGate article from John Knox White on these fascinating Highsmith controversies by clicking here. The video mentioned above can be found there as well. Another article is linked here.

Teresa Highsmith and, at least by proxy, her boss Michael Colantuono, are the people who will be sharing their legal pronouncements with us tonight on the issue of a building (or is that water) moratorium.

Doesn't that make you feel better about all of this?

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

109 comments:

  1. reorder the agenda mr. mayorJune 24, 2014 at 6:54 AM

    Our city government now specializes in low comedy, with the mayor setting the meeting agenda to prevent public participation and a city attorney chosen in spite of this Alameda incident.

    Our city - blessed with great citizens like the duo holding water moratorium signs in yesterday's heat - deserves better.

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    Replies
    1. Yes. I am so proud of Sierra Madre's citizens. No matter how bad things get at City Hall, they just keep fighting back, and winning.

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    2. You've got to be kidding....we are not winning. Look around you.
      I sure hope that YOU will be at the meeting tonight. I know I will.

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    3. Measure UUT? Heard of it?

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    4. in SM, residents to the back of the line

      developers to the front

      how many staff hours have been spent on developer related services?

      they billed the Mt Wilson Trail race for over 200 city staff hours for pre event planning? city staff costs ate up almost 60% of theTrail Race budget and that money should be returned to the event for trail maintenence like the event is promoted as being for - trail race maintenence instead of staff bonueses or overtime at the public expense.

      I can't imagine how many hours they wasted chasing their tails for developers and in return we get a failed water system, bloated pensions and salaries and double dipping?

      in the real world this is usuallly dealt termination with cause but the City Manager has an agenda that places the position of "Director of Development Services" as a key position in the administration when I guess a majority of the residents would rather see the title changed to "Director of Resident Services"

      and the developers go to the back of the line

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    5. the problem is that our niave council of today and years past arrogantly assume that the lack of public speaking at Council meetings rationalizes idiotic persona.

      because the public wasn't at UUT meetings, Walsh, Moran and Harabedian, like their predecessors assumed that they could do whatever they wanted and then get smashed at the polls.

      we gotta stop electing the same old same old - every Council tries to unravel or undermine a public vote mandating the city do what we voted on and passed


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  2. This came up when the question of whether to hire a new city attorney or not was being discussed by the City Council. John Harabedian chose to ignore it. Now this matter has come back to haunt him.

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    1. Mayor of RealvilleJune 24, 2014 at 7:26 AM

      Chris Koerber and John Capoccia voted to replace Highsmith.

      John Harabedian, Nancy Walsh and Josh Moran voted to keep her.

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    2. Another stunning Mayor Walsh success.

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    3. We need to clear the decks at City Hall and start over. I'd also say that part of the new job description at each position should be to do their best to implement the will of the residents who pay their salaries.

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    4. The ultimate responsibility for cleaning up this vile corruption rests upon each truly concerned Citizen.Everyone is able to commit something to reversing these outrages.I can not believe our community does not have enough gumption to protect their interest and contribute something of themselves to reverse this looting of our community for the enrichment of others!

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    5. Fire the current City Attorney firm and the pro-development agenda will vaporize overnight.

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    6. Captain, I agree that where Colantuono goes, trouble follows, but I respectfully disagree that the City Attorney is the only source of the pro-development agenda. It takes a lot of planning to accomplish the Trifecta of Doom that is now in place in Sierra Madre. Making the land deals, setting up the sales pitch to appeal to the target audience, putting a city council in office that will vote the way they're told to vote. They had the city manager in place so that saved them some time. But the fix is in. Know your enemy.

      I do think that residents can beat them, and as 9:13 says, it will take everybody working hard to do that. And it will be worth it!

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    7. I hope this victory is turned into a big step towards the residents taking back their city.

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  3. The best period of productive resident oriented staff and city attorney was when Kurt Zimmerman, an actual federal attorney who our city attorney was clearly inferior and knew that she or he was below the stature of Kurt professionally and the city manager became quite defensive and petty refusing to provide audits or hold our legal notice publisher to actual compliance so SM was compliant.

    I still find it bizzare that the City billed the Mt Wilson Trail Race for over 200 hours of PRE planning for an event that is the same year after year and the Race paid used 60% of it's budget for staff payrolll and I was told the event was a fundraiser for Trail Maintennce.

    If you double billed in the real business world you get fired or discontinued as a vendor.

    In SM it's applauded.

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    Replies
    1. It the 4th of July, Fire them....

      I do not find it bazar...

      When the city residents finally wise up and "take away city halls money" the existing city employees will be forced to make changes or loos their job / and or balance the city's finances.

      Other wize all city employees continue to get raises and will continue to be able to live more comfortable live styles at the residents expenses!

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  4. with social media, this city attorney must be as self aware as Noah Greene

    Too many lawyers in a room = alot of talking and discussing and no action except in SM for development

    I find is appalling that our resident Councilman "lawyer" snagged up the most visible on political organizations for himself instead of who is best on the Council for the task, Harabedian hopefully will be the last lawyer we elect who is using a Council position for career networking.

    if we clear out everyone who thinks SCAG is a worthwhile special interest group for SM to be active inshould be fired or never elected again.

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  5. Mayor of Realville "John Harabedian, Nancy Walsh and Josh Moran voted to keep her (crazy city attorney)"

    Stop for a second and look at those three names and realize that the development interests and status quo somehow put in power those three mental giants to decided our city's future and hold the fort down until a new wave of new residents moves into town and they can do what they want like the old robber barons from the Wild West.

    Either we have a water crisis or major concern in SM or we don't.

    The city says we do but only for existing residents, for businesess and new developments, there is no water crisis.

    Start watering your lawns and refuse to pay the fines, what can the city do? with our city attorney, NOTHING - I won't cause I planted water saving but still it irks me that the cleaners and self wash places get a flat annual cheap rate because as Nancy Walsh said, "cause she could" and I'm told to not water my garden of vegetables and the water looks like it was pumped out the urninal at Heasley Field.

    But the city is telling us that the first priority is new development, so there's no water issue in SM as far as Im concerned.

    We need a city manager who is n his or her 50's or older that has experience and not looking to milk an undeserved lucatrative pension and benefit packages



    Harabedian, Walsh and Moran decided the the realtor friendly city attorney was fine with them

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  6. Walsh never got her toilet in Memorial Park did she?

    imagine being on the Council for 4 years and the only project was a bathroom remodel at Memorial Park - when it's not needed or necessary - for the "civility" party it kept her busy and away

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    Replies
    1. Actually, Walsh wanted to ban the toilets in lieu of a storage room for the seniors. Well, the seniors will get their storage room if they can ever get their act together and the city pays Bruce Inman to be the chief contractor for the job. Keep watching closely the Planning Commission members who are trying to keep the integrity of the Hart Park House while the seniors are fighting tooth and nail to thwart the Commission's efforts to keep a couple of sq. ft. of space. Which, by the way is way more space than they would have had if they had done away with the park restrooms.

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    2. At least that keeps the seniors busy and off the streets.

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    3. wow 10:20 did not know that

      she wanted to get rid of the bathrooms at a public park for enlarging storage for the senior hall

      what a stupid idea and waste of time for a Councilmember especially when she was ignoring the water future and other issues

      even her "big project" was petty

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    4. wait what?????

      our city public works director was going to be a contractor on a city project?

      isnt' that his job? or was he also double billing the city by moonlighting while on the SM timeclock?

      seems to be alot of this going on in SM




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  7. in my years, I have met hundreds of lawyers in passing or from observation.

    I can count on one hand the lawyers that I would find interesting and respectful

    Harabedian just loves being Mayor for himself and I remember John Buchanan doing the same thing and Buchanan endorsed Harabedian - lawyer to lawyer

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  8. Colantuono and Whatever is a law firm the specializes in beating down the wishes of taxpayers. That is why they are here. Highsmith's tactics should not be a surprise to anyone.

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    Replies
    1. and I'm sure they snookered our city into a binding agreement that benefits them

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  9. we the residents of sierra madre must be extremely stupid!

    Why "in the hell" have we continued to pay Elaine - Bruce - Karen & red the city attorney" money to continually ruin this town?

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    Replies
    1. Don't despair.There is nothing like the wrath of a people when they realize they have been betrayed by those who they trusted to protect their interest!

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    2. Maybe we need to cut down the money they have to play with.

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    3. well when we keep electing the same old same old and that same old same old has more interests outside of SM or pandering to developers as a first priority cause typically we elect Councilmembers who stand to profit directly or indirectly with their decisions on the Council.

      I never heard a good reason why John Buchanan, who was an employee of SoCal Edision was never recused from development votes because anytime he voted "yes" he benefited his employer and he voted "yes" alot.

      the same could be said about several former Council members who also had direct conflicts but our legal advisior failed to pay attention or care

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    4. Fire the city manager then fire bruce and danny boy castro.
      Add karen and colontono then pay off the water bonds...

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  10. I spoke to John Cappocia earlier today. I asked him to consider moving the moratorium item (#8) to an earlier time in the evening . He was hesitant to do it. He feels the budget item (#7?) is important. (I have a solution...move BOTH items up.) After speaking to him, I suspect that he is seriously considering voting AGAINST a moratorium because he fears that the city will be sued. I reminded him that he should be more concerned about the residents' rights to water. He told me that it is impossible to shut down all new development in town. (I am not against development in Sierra Madre...I just think it is prudent to wait until there is more water available.)

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    Replies
    1. John ran as slow growth fiscal conservative who would fight tax increases. Now he is just a City hall rubber stamp. What is it they do to the souls of elected officials in that place?

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    2. C'mon. Is it less important than a discussion on how to fill commission seats? Item #5? Or Gann appropriation limits? Item #3? The reason the Bldg Moratorium was pushed to the end is to discourage resdients from speaking out about saving Sierra Madre.

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    3. I am not sure John Capoccia even understands what he is talking about.

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    4. residents dont need to be there

      3 council members need to vote in the way that best benefits existing residents

      I find the Council attitude boring

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    5. great, we elected officials who cave in like wimps cause they are afraid of the big bad developer's lawyer

      I understand cause our legal team sucks big time - they always cave and settle negotiating city lose/developer wins deals

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    6. it is not possible to stop all development in town

      but it is possible to stop about 90% of it but making it very very very expensive for new water hook ups

      personally I don't care one iota about what a developer wants or demands, our water - get lost until the crisis is over and solved

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  11. Replies
    1. Give them less to spend. That will focus their efforts like a laser beam - to get more $$.

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  12. That's why we have an expensive law firm; to keep from being sued. If the town has the metro hook up and enought water for over development.... then why are we asked to pay for increases in our water bills? and possible fines if conservation measures are not followed. What are the developers water conservation plans (not landscaping), have they been submitted? and not just grey water conservation that the state will be mandating later this year.

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  13. In my wimpy Councilmember voice, "I'm afraid the developer is gonna sue us....waaaaaaa"

    how about find a way to win instead of caving in

    the city was all big bad tough with the proposed Wine Bar on Montecitio but wimps with a big developer and the track record for big developers in SM has been constant drain on city resources and then sell and we gotta do it all over again

    keep Harabedian in check and I feel he is sneaky with what he is saying or doing, he put himself in the regional agenices for maximum exposure of himself

    Noah Green went a different route of exposing himself in his Council campaign

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  14. If you are unwilling to fight for Sierra Madre, then Mr. Capoccia, perhaps you need to step aside.

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  15. It appears that the Development toadies are pushing the line that the right to Development is sacrosanct and can not be questioned.Baloney!

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  16. Baloney is right! Cambria isn't the only city to stop developers in their tracks. Destroying the last remaining open space in the valley is hardly anyone's right--in fact, the proposed housing project at the monastery will cause irreversible damage and do irreparable harm. Sacrosanct? More Baloney.

    That said, it must be acknowledged that big money players can always afford to spread around a lot of 'good will' --which so often translates to things conveniently going their way: a variance, an interpretation of the law, a permit. Or a decision that the mere whisper of the word 'lawsuit' is reason enough to betray the public trust.

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  17. The question is, sue for what? On what grounds?
    We have consistently been in the right, and as then city attorney Colantuono so eloquently put it during the Carter fiasco, We are confident that we would prevail in court.
    4/5 of the council at the time didn't hear it.

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  18. Nothing is on KGEM.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 6:50 and still nothing.
      Guess this one will not be broadcasted.

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  19. John Dole is advocating for brown shirt citizens to snitch n smokers! really!!!

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  20. the smoking fascists are back.

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  21. Great, Consolidated elections. Now only tax and spend folks will win.

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  22. The item everyone cares about has been moved up to the beginning of the meeting. Yahoo!

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  23. Item 8 is now item #2. I am here , the room is packed, and people are ready to speak.

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  24. The microphones aren't working in the council chamber. There is a metaphor in that somewhere.

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  25. The city attorney has caved in. She is now admitting that the water mess can be a reason for a moratorium. Well whattaya know!

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  26. We could do a water hook up moratorium says the city attorney. Didn't see much about that in that staff report she wrote.

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  27. If you do a water hook up moratorium they will proceed with entitlements for developing Mater Dolorosa, which will vastly increase the value of the property, then sell the property and the new owner will just wait out the drought and build as soon as it is over, You have to have a Growth Management Ordinance for a permanent solution.

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    Replies
    1. They can't do a damn thing to force a zoning change. Not one damn thing.

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  28. Capoccia - what reserves do we have left, Bruce?

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  29. Bruce Inman: Two years supply. No guarantees, and the supply is tenuous. We are not a Metropolitan member, and we could be cut off first.

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  30. Fire this film flam man

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  31. Bruce says what we have now will get us through March of 2015. After that we will need to buy more.

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  32. Hmm. Sounds like we need a water moratorium.

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  33. it's a trick to shut u up and take away the water argument! they will put a temporary moratorium on water hook ups and proceed with development entitlements on the Mater Dolorosa property by promising nothing can be built until the drought is over.

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  34. what u need is all yards ripped out and replaced with gravel and a tiered water rate structure that punitively charges excessive users

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  35. "To be wholly reliant on the East Raymond Basin?" Bruce opines. 27 months to get to the minimum 500 feet. 3 to 5 years.

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  36. Sounds like we need a building moratorium?

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  37. Uh oh. Mayor Harabedian is blaming resident water usage. Bad residents.

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  38. Bruce has just said that Azusa just went to a Phase 3 water condition. That comes with a water hook-up moratorium.

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  39. I'm hoping for a big El Nino, flush all these idiots out of town.

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  40. Councilmember Goss is asking Bruce if El Nino is coming. Bruce does not want to answer that one.

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    Replies
    1. That was a golden moment.

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    2. He only knows about leaky pipes

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  41. It's so obvious these people are in the pockets of the developers

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  42. We certainly are getting some frank discussion on our water problems this evening from City Hall. Long time coming.

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  43. Marguerite Schuster just put a smack down on Gene Goss. "It is foolish to talk about an El Nino." Ouch.

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  44. The One Carter lawyer is making a speech that is guaranteeing he will not be a very popular person here.

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    Replies
    1. He is recommending that we all stop using water so that he can build McMansions.

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    2. He is there for one reason only - to threaten.

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    3. Sorry for the French, but that guy is an a**hole.

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  45. Denise has spoken, and it was great. Now we get the other three.

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  46. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  47. Uh oh. Gene is using the "process" word. That isn't good.

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  48. You can see where this is headed

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  49. You can start solving the water "problem" by firing Inman.

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  50. Time to recall Goss.

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  51. Capoccia is supporting a Phase 3 style water restriction as well. The message seems to be that OK, you can have your moratorium, but get ready to back it up with a 30% cutback. Does anyone smell politics here? Or is it just me.

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  52. Recall Cappocia. He is a fake. Sold out

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  53. Sure Capoccia. Everyone cut back their water usage so development can happen without the city using more water.

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  54. Capoccia is in favor of a moratorium. Phase 3 and a building moratorium. The people can make these guys do what they are supposed to do.

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  55. Same ole same ole

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  56. Let the recall process begin

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  57. Is a Phase 3 water restriction the right answer?

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  58. Harabedian is fibbing. The old council never discussed water hook up moratoriums. He is trying to cover his butt.

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  59. Mayor of RealvilleJune 24, 2014 at 9:02 PM

    Water hookups already installed at 1 Carter. Hookup moratorium will jack up value of 1 Carter lots a lot.

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    Replies
    1. That developer is popping the champagne corks as we speak.

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    2. Big win for Adele Chang. Big win for One Carter.

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  60. Goss can't make a point without talking about himself.

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  61. Old Gene is digging himself quite a hole. Keep talking, perfesser!

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  62. What a jackals this Goss is

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  63. This lawyer needs to go too!

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  64. People considering buying property at One Carter should be aware that property is very bad luck.
    It sits on a triangle of death, fire, earthquake, mud slide. It is also an old Indian burial grounds. Cursed by the Gabrielino Indians.
    There have been murders up there.
    People have a right to know!!!!!

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  65. It the 4th of July, Fire them....

    I do not find it bazar...

    When the city residents finally wise up and "take away city halls money" the existing city employees will be forced to make changes or loose their job / and or balance the city's finances.

    Other wize all city employees continue to get raises and will continue to be able to live more comfortable live styles at the residents expenses!

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  66. FYI: Michael Colantuono is no longer Terri Highsmith's boss -- they are now law partners at Colantuono, Highsmith and Whatley.

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